One of the questions we often get asked is "What's the best playground in Marin?" Rather than give our opinion, again, we decided to put that question to our readers via social media, and to let you choose the top five playgrounds in Marin County. So, without further ado, here are the five best playgrounds in Marin, as chosen by Marin Mommies readers, along with the five runners-up. Thanks to all our readers and followers for your input!
For a fun family day out this summer (or any time of year, actually), head east over the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge and up into the Berkeley Hills, where you'll find Tilden Park, a 2,000-acre playground where there's literally something for everyone. Part of the East Bay Regional Parks system, Tilden is so big and there's so much to do here, that it really bears repeat visits!
From hiking trails and campgrounds to a historic carousel and scale steam trains, you'll find a lot to do here. Best of all, many of the attractions are free or very inexpensive. Here are our favorite things to do when visiting Tilden!
If you've never ventured out to McInnis Park, in northern San Rafael, you owe it to yourself to check it out this summer. McInnis Park, formally known as John F. McInnis Park, is 450-acre regional park, and a one-stop destination for all kinds of active family fun, from golf and baseball to hiking and skateboarding.
If you haven't been you really should pay it a visit. And if you have, you should resolve to go there more often! Here are some of the things that keep us coming back multiple times every summer (and at other times of the year, too).
Spring has sprung at the Marin Art and Garden Center and Pixie Park’s Spring Fair is about to bloom! In fact the Fair has blossomed at MAGC each year for the last 58 years making its occurrence almost a rite of spring. While many generations of Marinites have enjoyed the Spring Fair, you don’t have to be from Marin to soak in its nostalgia. Kids of all ages are welcome to step back in time and explore the Fair’s Candy Land, Autopia, and Tot Town. The fair also offers families rides on an old-time train, storytelling performances, and a petting farm. Admission is free so there is really no reason not to make Pixie Park’s Spring Fair a new family tradition.
My kids and I always thought it would be fun to rent a boat and explore Stow Lake in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, so that's just what we decided to do last week! We've actually never done this before, but every time we went by there, we promised ourselves we would come back and do this one day. It's a lot of fun, and a must-do activity for families visiting the park.
Join the Friends of Peri Park this Saturday, May 17, from 9 am to noon for the unveiling of the park's new play structures. Peri Park playground is located at 16 Park Road in Fairfax. This free celebration features refreshments from Mana Bowls and Peri Park merchandise for sale.
The national non-profit KaBOOM! awarded the Town of Fairfax a $20,000 Let’s Play City Construction Grant to build a new playground structure with community involvement. As part of the agreement with KaBOOM!, the Town of Fairfax needed to raise a matching $10,000. The Peri Park campaign has been a resounding success, raising nearly $15,000 to date.
The mission of Friends of Peri Park is to improve the enjoyment and safety of Peri Park Playground. Their goal is to develop a community of volunteers, parents, children, and friends to help further their mission by supporting with volunteer assistance and fundraising efforts.
Since the weather's been so nice in Marin this winter, and since Marin County Parks is waiving parking fees through January 5, 2014, we thought we'd check out Paradise Beach Park. Located along the shores of San Francisco Bay in Tiburon, the 19-acre Paradise Beach Park offers a beach, plenty of lawns and picnic areas, a redwood grove, and an iconic fishing pier for the anglers among us. The views from this bayside gem of a park are amazing, too, with sweeping vistas of Marin and the East Bay. If you haven't been to Paradise Beach Park, it's worth a visit.
I haven't been to Paradise Park for years, so this was a great excuse to revisit it, but with my kids this time. They had a blast exploring the beach, running and playing on the grass, and watching fish jumping and harbor seals swimming by from the fishing pier.
Down at the Berkeley Marina you'll find one of the Bay Area's all-time classic kids' attractions: the Adventure Playground. This unique place at the foot of University Avenue is no ordinary playground, however. At first glance, it actually looks more like a junkyard than a playground, but it's actually an amazing outdoor wonderland where kids can let their imaginations and creative energy run wild and build with hammers, saws, nails, paint, and recycled materials.
Don't worry—it's not a Lord of the Flies-style free for all. Plenty of helpful young people from the playground's staff are on hand to help, encourage, and make sure everyone has a great safe time. The Adventure Playground is like a big vacant lot full of wood, tires, old boats, and more. Kids can work on their own projects or cooperate to work on larger ventures like adding on to one of the playground's forts.
It's the kind of environment that many kids these days don't really have a chance to experience, and it's been delighting Bay Area children for almost 35 years. In addition to opportunities to build and create, playground-goers can ride a zip line, slide, and swings, and play on a huge rope climbing structure or on one of the playground's many boats and wooden constructions.
One of childhood's time-honored rituals is heading down to a local pond and feeding leftover bread to the ducks. Not only is it fun for small children, but it helps get ride of that leftover bread in your pantry, too. Feeding the ducks is something my kids always loved to do, and even still enjoy, and there are a few great places in and around Marin County where hungry ducks are plentiful.
Of course feeding the ducks isn't without its risks—pesky and aggressive gulls and Canada geese often try to elbow their way into the action, and they're pretty much ubiquitous in the Bay Area these days. We always try to make sure the ducks get their fair share and try to find a way to outwit the avian interlopers!
The Marin Civic Center
The Marin Civic Center in San Rafael is home to a large pond that's home to numerous waterfowl. There's also a new playground, nice paved walking paths, lawns, picnic tables, and even an island. It's fun to go feed the ducks after an outing to the nearby farmers market on Thursdays and Sundays.